Mexican Migration Chief Accused of Unlawful Practice after Deadly Fire

Mexican authorities and firefighters remove injured migrants, mostly Venezuelans, from inside the National Migration Institute (INM) building during a fire, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico March 27, 2023. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
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MEXICO CITY, April 25 (Reuters) – Mexican prosecutors on Tuesday formally accused Mexico’s top migration official with unlawful practice in public office, a criminal offense, over a fire at a government detention center that killed 40 migrants, according to Mexican media.

Francisco Garduno, head of the National Migration Institute (INM), is the highest-ranking official to be formally accused in the case, which also led to the arrests of several other INM officials on homicide charges.

Garduno, in remarks to reporters broadcast by Milenio television after the hearing, said he had invoked his right to remain silent before a judge. The hearing was held in Ciudad Juarez, the northern border city where the fire occurred.

His lawyer, Rodolfo Perez, also in televised remarks after the hearing, said the judge denied a request from prosecutors to temporarily suspend Garduno as head of the INM.

Garduno has remained in his post since the fire took place on March 27

Perez said the hearing will continue Sunday, when the judge is expected to determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to merit charges against Garduno.

According to newspaper La Verdad, prosecutors told the judge that the Ciudad Juarez detention center was not equipped for fire safety or to house migrants, and Garduno did not take steps to improve conditions.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Leslie Adler
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